Hospice nurses are in high demand, but not all positions are paid equally, according to the latest Hospice Salary & Benefits Report from the Hospital and Healthcare Compensation Service (HCS).
Hospital-based hospice RNs received the highest pay, according to the 2017-2018 report, while for-profit hospice RNs received the lowest pay.
The report analyzed statistics from 893 hospices and hospice programs, including 64 jobs — covering salaries, bonuses and hourly & per visit rates. It was published in cooperation with the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC).
On average, hospital-based RNs earned $33.75/hour, compared to $33.22/hour for VNA/VNS RNs and $31.65/hour for not-for-profit hospice RNs. For-profit hospice RNs earned an average of $30.89/hour, according to the report. Half of respondents reported that hospice RNs are salaried employees.
From 2017, the average caseloads, or the average number of patients assigned to an employee at any given time, for RNs increased to 13.31, up from 12.86. The average number of patient visits per day also rose to 4.34 for 2017, from 4.33 in 2016.
RNs in California made the most on average, with an hourly rate of $42.69, followed by Connecticut, at $37.58/hour; and Oregon, at $37.46/hour.
Louisiana ranked at the bottom for hourly RNs rates, at $25.41, followed by Mississippi at $26.10/hour, and South Carolina, at $26.68/hour
Beyond variations in pay among RNs, turnover among top executives declined sharply, from 14.56% in 2016 to 8.92% in 2017, according to the report. By comparison, turnover rates among home care and hospice aides was reported at 21.97% in the report.
“This could be attributed to the actual increase in salaries of 2.67% for top level executives,” Roseanne Zabka, director of reports at HCS, told Home Health Care News.
In addition, the report revealed that executive directors, COOs and directors of clinical services receive higher compensation in hospices than in home health care agencies in a comparison between the two sectors, Zabka noted. The home health salary report was released in October.
Looking ahead, hospice pay rates will see “a healthy increase,” Zabka said. “Participants reported a planned increase for 2018 ranging from 2.47% to 2.51%.”
In addition, the ratio of for-profit hospices could continue to increase. When HCS first began reporting salary figures on hospice 26 years ago, 100% of hospices were not-for-profit, Zabka said. Now, 83.65% of participants were for-profit. The increase may reflect for-profits seeing more opportunity to make money with hospice revenue as home care reimbursement rates have declined over several years.
Written by Amy Baxter